Sunday, 19 July 2015

Linger Longer

I'm reading Everything you ever wanted by Jillian Lauren. It is searing, desperate, heartbreaking, hopeful, joyful and human, all rolled into one. I cringed when I read about her parents disowning her after she told them about her first memoir, a book about her unsavory past and her imperfect family, as she calls it. And I was struck again by how truly courageous writers of memoirs are. To have the guts to put your story down, to put it out there, showing your insides to the world. To have the courage to face up to the disappointment and accusations of those who form part of your story. It made me think - with some relief, I confess - of this writing space of mine. I am not brave enough to live all the emotions that fall on the murkier side of the human spectrum out loud in this space. Those I scribble down over glasses of wine or cups of tea, in nondescript notebooks scattered throughout the house.

Instead, I love this space for it's constant reminder to me that if I don't pay close enough attention,
I won't have anything to add to this rambling road of memories, moments, experiences, people and places.


A couple of weekends ago, I was lucky enough to slip away for two nights to a beautiful stone cottage just small enough to be cozy and big enough to be comfortable. I packed only the essentials. Red wine, books, a journal, and my camera.

That first night, tucked up in my little cottage against the icy cold, I soaked it all in. A crackling fire, a glass of sherry, and two individually wrapped marshmallows for roasting. A bed with an electric blanket, winter sheets and a down comforter. Freshly brewed coffee, and a tiny bar of chocolate on my pillow. A pile of unread books. I wrapped myself up and headed outside, breathing in the night. I always forget that there are still places where it’s so quiet it’s almost as if you can hear the stars glittering against infinite space.

Dullstroom in summer is ridiculously green, and lush. In winter, the emerald fades to wheat, the hills are dun-coloured and the only green still clinging to the landscape are the pine needles on the trees. I set out with my camera and spent a good part of the weekend searching out colour where I could find it, and where I couldn't, trying to capture instead that quiet feeling of winter and a landscape at rest.

I picked up a travelling companion along my rambles. His name is Milo (obviously!) and he stuck by me until night fell and hunger called him home.

I woke early on Saturday morning to find myself cocooned in my cottage by a swirling white mist. I closed my eyes and slept further, promising myself I would get up early on Sunday morning and go for a walk. In the afternoon I received an invitation for tea from Tom, the owner of the farm, which I of course accepted. He boiled the kettle while I admired his Aga stove, telling me about his life and the loss of his wife last year to cancer. He showed me pictures of his wife, and grandchildren, and I showed him pictures of Immy. I sat curled up in a chair in the sun, cradling my cup of tea while we exchanged stories, and dreams for the future. An unlikely pairing for a conversation, perhaps, but this is my favourite thing about travelling solo: the intersecting of two complete strangers, a few hours spent together during which you give small pieces of yourself and your story, and receive the same in return. Knowing when you leave that you've connected with one more person, and anchored yourself in some small way to a new part of the world.

I was rewarded for getting up early (ish) on Sunday.

Succulents shrugging off their icy coats in the morning sun.

Butterflies pirouetting from flower to flower.

Frosted footprints, and yes. Colour.

Dreaming of spring things already. A weekend trip to Clarens, and a house full of flowers.

Almost there. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The colour of winter

It's winter.

We miss our fireplace. There is something so comforting about the hissing and crackling logs, the warmth, the livingness of a fire that brightens up a place in winter.

If there's one thing we're good at though, it's improvising. Cozy flannel sheets and electric blankets, boot slippers and blankets, tomato soup with grilled cheese on toast. Cold dark mornings call for hot chocolate and teddy bears in the car on the way to school, and of course bedtime for Immy is made that much more exciting now that the cat has taken to curling up on her bed when we settle in for bedtime stories. This brings her such immeasurable delight, that some nights I have to kick the cat off my bed (surreptitiously while Immy is brushing her teeth), close my bedroom door and then feign delight and surprise when she jumps onto Immy's bed instead.

We're on our way to summer, but here are some of our winter moments.

Winter sun and lazy mornings reading in bed.

Candles, and bubbles, and warm steamy bathrooms. This is one of our favourite girl rituals in winter.

Hide and seek and a thing for stripes.

A hike in the middle of the city with her dad (he took all these gorgeous photos).


Summer snaps in hard copy.

Farm adventures.

I'm not sure why but don't they all look a bit like Children of the Corn??

Splashes of yellow to brighten up dark corners.

Morning sunbeams...

And the stripes theme continued.

Let's be honest. Compared to spring with it's absolute springiness, summer with it's gorgeous blues and greens and balmy days, winter is just plain hard work. I used to dread it, the way the colour drains from the sky and the trees, the sadness of leafless branches, faded grass, smoky fires.

But in keeping with the rhythms of nature, of seasons, of death and life, this year I decided to go with the seasonal flow. More rest. More time for reflection, for reading, for snuggling up with my girl to watch movies and eat popcorn. More time for saving up, sifting through, sorting out.

Also. Winter has the monopoly on perfect early morning and late afternoon light. Just saying.

Happy Tuesday.

~ m